Raikkonen plays down Mercedes reports

Kimi Raikkonen in his McLaren Mercedes days

Nov.19 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday played down reports he is close to signing for 2010 with the newly Mercedes rebranded Brawn team.

The Finn’s management announced earlier that the breakdown of talks with McLaren meant that Raikkonen, 30, would take a sabbatical next year and go rallying instead.

The 2009 Ferrari driver confirmed the news to F1’s official website on Thursday, admitting that a season off before a possible return for 2011 “appears to be the case”.

When asked about the reported Mercedes GP link, Raikkonen added: “No, I have not held talks with Brawn. I feel they will run two German drivers next year now that Mercedes are involved.”

Earlier on Thursday, his manager Steve Robertson said he could not rule out Raikkonen reaching a deal for 2010 with an F1 team.

The winner of 18 grands prix said: “I have enjoyed my time in F1 and I still have ambitions. In the right circumstances I am very keen to return. The door is open. Let’s see what the future brings.”